Support A School

Right now, 12 million children worldwide struggle to learn because they struggle to see. But we already have the solution. Access to good eye care and glasses. Together, let's help to put better vision into African classrooms.

Can I contact or visit the school I sponsor?

No but we will send you updates so you can see the changes bought about in peoples’ lives as a result of your donation.

What happens after I Support a School for one year?

After you donate £5,000, during the following 12 months we will reach teachers, children, families and communities to help improve vision based around one named school. Because the school in this area have not had screening for eye health before, in this first year, we will reach all pupils.

After the year has finished, the skills and knowledge provided to teachers to carry out school-based screening remains in place, and they can do this with more children aged 4-14 as they arrive into the school system.

It is unlikely that the mobile health unit will visit again as the number of children in each new intake who need full eye examinations will be small; however, by this time the school and the community around it will be more aware of how to get help from the nearest vision centre that can provide eye tests and glasses.

So you can donate again, to support another school!

After you choose to give a Regular Gift to a School, unless you choose to cancel your Direct Debit, you will continue to support schools. Your donations are being put to good use to strengthen the whole programme and to help us reach as many children as possible.

After you choose to Fundraise to Support a School, after 12 months we hope you will have achieved your target of £5,000. At that point, we will reveal the school you are supporting and keep you updated. If you haven’t reached your target, we will talk to you about continuing to fundraise or what the amount you have raised can do to help chidlren to see clearly; we are here to help.

So you can fundraise again, for another school!

What is uncorrected refractive error?

A refractive error is a very common eye disorder. It occurs when the eye cannot clearly focus the images from the outside world. The result of refractive errors is blurred vision, which is sometimes so severe that it causes visual impairment.

The four most common refractive errors are:

  • myopia (nearsightedness): difficulty in seeing distant objects clearly;

  • hyperopia (farsightedness): difficulty in seeing close objects clearly;

  • astigmatism: distorted vision resulting from an irregularly curved cornea, the clear covering of the eyeball.

  • presbyopia: which leads to difficulty in reading or seeing at arm's length, it is linked to ageing and occurs almost universally.

Refractive errors cannot be prevented, but they can be diagnosed by an eye examination and treated with corrective glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. If corrected in time and by eye-care professionals, they do not impede the full development of good visual function. (World Health Organization). 

Are you are using the right approach?

Support a School will adopt the ‘Standard Guidelines for Comprehensive School Eye Health’, an approach proven to reduce vision impairment in children and to improve school grades (International Agency for Prevention of Blindness). 

School health programmes can be one of 'the most cost-effective investments a nation can make to simultaneously improve education and health' (World Health Organization).

It is widely accepted that:

  • schools are a cost-effective platform for providing simple, safe and effective health interventions for children

  • teachers can safely and effectively pre-screen children for vision problems on-site with up to 100% accuracy rates (World Bank).

It can cost up to 4 times less to carry out vision screening via a School Based Eye Health approach versus outreach (Global Partnership for Education) and it has the added benefit of identifying patients with more complex conditions that might otherwise go undetected. 

Providing students with glasses has shown to boost test scores and academic performance to the same degree as it would with four to six months of additional schooling (Overseas Development Institute 2018).

The impact wearing glasses can have on children’s mathematics scores can be 10 times higher than from deworming, and three times higher than from nutrition focused approaches (World Economic Forum, 2016).

Early detection and effective management of eye conditions with properly prescribed glasses can also contribute to achieving some of the education targets in SDG 4 by reducing dropout rates and improving academic performance (Kumah, 2017).

What do we need to do to achieve good eye health in East Wollega?

  • increase the level human resources for eye health to detect, treat and/or refer cases of vision impairment

  • improve the health infrastructure, equipment and supply chains for quality and affordable spectacles

  • strengthen referral networks between existing facilities

  • improves eye health awareness at the community level resulting in misconceptions around the causes of vision impairment and treatment available and

  • ensure the School Health and Nutrition Plan includes vision screening and eye health education

These actions will improve service for people who have limited or no access to refractive error services in this rural area. In turn this will positively impact:

  • Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan whose overall focus is on poverty eradication

  • The Ethiopian Education Sector Development Programme’s commitment to educational outcomes of vulnerable populations including girls, persons with disabilities and other groups traditionally left behind

  • Indicators linked to Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 4 especially

How is Support a School sustainable?

The approach meets Vision Aid Overseas’ long-term goals to improve service provision to vulnerable populations, impacting upon education outcomes for school children and health and wellbeing outcomes for children, their teachers and communities within an underserved location.

The results, learnings and impact from this project will be used to provide evidence for additional resources to roll out the approved approach, with ongoing work alongside the Federal Ministry of Health and Federdal Ministry of Education to show that eye health is an essential component of any School Health and Nutrition Plan to improve learning outcomes.

How does Support a School help girls?

Although Ethiopia has made much progress in ensuring all children get an education, girls and disabled children still face huge barriers, particularly those in the very remote areas. Girls in particular face considerable barriers to achieving their potential. Many still have very poor attendance at primary school, so they perform badly in their exams and are unable to progress to secondary school.

Parents sometimes keep their girls out of school for a number of reasons: domestic chores or work so they can contribute to household income; parents might prioritise the education of their sons over their daughters; early marriage still happens in some parts of the country, particularly with the poorest families.

And so, girls are more likely than boys to drop out of school before they reach secondary education and disabled girls, including those with visual impairments, represent an even lower percentage of enrolment throughout all levels of education. 

How does Support a School contribute to the progress towards Sustainable Development Goals?

There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

  • Goal 1. No Poverty. Restoring someone’s sight is the single most cost-effective health intervention to reduce poverty. (WHO)

  • Goal 3. Good Health and Wellbeing. By 2050 half of the world’s population will be short sighted (myopic) - potentially the biggest public health issue of our generation. Up to 80% of vision impairment is preventable or treatable. (WHO)

  • Goal 4. Quality education. 80% of what a child learns is processed through their sight. Approximately 90% of children with low-vision who live in developing countries are deprived of schooling. (Blindness, Poverty and Development. IAPB & Vision 2020)

  • Goal 5. Gender Equality. If a girl has her vision corrected, she has a better chance of achieving more at school. And for each year she stays in school her income will rise by 10-20%. An educated girl will grow up to gain her rightful place in society and be a force for change, raising the status of girls and women. (The Girl Issue).

  • Goal 8. Good Jobs and Economic Growth. The global economy loses $272 billion in productivity each year because of uncorrected vision impairment. That’s more than the total GDP of sixty countries – combined. (World Health Organization)

  • Goal 10. Reduce Inequalities. About 90% of the world’s visually impaired live in low-income settings. By correcting the vision of all of our children, we have the potential to remove one of the barriers they face in achieving economic and educational equity in the future. (World Health Organization)

  • Goal 17. Partnerships for the Goals. By building global, regional, national and local collaborative partnerships we can advance progress in eye health services for children.

How does Support a School help to achieve children’s rights?

We want children to have good health and wellbeing; eye health is a vital part of their life. Poor eye health affects the realisation of a child’s rights. For example, a child’s right to health including treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health, their right to education and the right to an adequate standard of living.

How much of my donation goes overseas?

80% of the donations we receive through school sponsorship goes overseas, whilst 20% is spent in the UK on raising awareness, finding more supporters, and communicating with supporters. 

Remember, our big ambition is to roll this out across Ethiopia and beyond, so only by investing in the future of this programme can we scale up and reach thousands more children.

Want to ask us a question? 

We are here to help, just get in touch with us by email. 

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